Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 22 July 2011 00:00
Nassau County Legislator and Public Safety Committee Chair Dennis Dunne, along with Nassau County Director of Veterans Services Michael Kilbride and other elected officials, spoke outside the County Legislature building in Mineola to address the issue of veterans not receiving proper benefits after filing the requisite paperwork – most from 2008 to 2010, with a few from 2005 - with the Nassau Veterans Services Agency.
Dunne said that hundreds of claims have been filed involving veterans who never received benefits or services but took all the necessary steps to obtain them. He also said that he requested a federal investigation to uncover any possible wrongdoing at the agency during the above noted time period.
“If any veteran has an application with the Nassau County Veterans Services Association since 2005 and they haven’t heard anything, they may still be eligible because there are so many [applications] that haven’t been [processed],” said Dunne.
Dunne said he’s written letters to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Peter King, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice to initiate an investigation and to request that the benefits are made retroactive to the date that their paperwork was filed.
“Don’t let the veterans get penalized, let the guys who let that happen, the supervisors of the office, shame on them, they should be penalized,” said Dunne, adding that that he discovered two boxes of applications submitted but not processed, some of which dated back to 2005.
A veteran’s son spoke regarding how he filed an application for his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, in May 2008. To check on the status of the application, he called the provided hotline and was told that no such application had been submitted. During that call, he was told that his application would be expedited and he finally received confirmation of the submission in September 2009 – a year and a half from his first filing.
Another veteran’s son provided his story, citing how he filed an application for his father to receive assistance and received a call six months later informing him that the application was “lost in the process.” He followed up and submitted another application a year later and again received the same answer.
“It’s a blessing and a privilege to be able to help my dad, but he deserves his benefits. He’s hanging in there. He’s 88, but he’s got a lot of issues,” he said.
Legislator Rose Marie Walker said, “We’re able to be standing here because of our veterans. We need to do all we can to rectify the situation. These applications were filed in good faith and veterans and their families shouldn’t be punished.”
Dunne explained that his cause is going to need help from federal officials and that officials on the local level are doing their part to help remedy the situation as well.
“Our guys and gals that are coming home from the war, if they need an application and they didn’t get their benefits, Michael will fix it,” Dunne added, noting Michael Kilbride’s office number, 572-6560.